OT: MGoBookClub

Submitted by TheDarkKnight on January 29th, 2010 at 1:15 PM
I really enjoyed last week's thread on David Foster Wallace. He's a writer that I had heard about but never gotten into. But thanks to that thread and the links to his works, I was finally exposed to his writing. I also picked up a copy of Brief Interviews with Hideous Men which I am nearly finished with. I wanted to see what else people are reading/have read that they would recommend to fellow MGoReaders. I'm guessing with the amount of academics/smart people that make up the mgoblog readership, there may have been a thread like this before, but I went back a decent number of pages and didn't see one.


His Dudeness

January 29th, 2010 at 1:22 PM ^

Personal favs that won't take long:

A Man Without a Country - Vonnegut
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love - Carver
Mr. Nice - Marks

If you have more time:

Pihkal - Shulgin

Ghost of Bo

January 29th, 2010 at 1:28 PM ^

Rest in peace, DFW. That man was a legend gone far too soon.

My recommendations for now are:

Fiction - 'Independence Day' by Richard Ford. This book has hardly flown under the radar (it won the Pulitzer Prize), but I keep running into people who haven't read it. It is one of the few flawless novels of the past twenty years.

Non-Fiction - 'Team of Rivals' by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Again, this one is a no-brainer. Still, it presents a complete picture of Lincoln and his cabinet. I've read it twice, and I'm still uncovering nuggets of insight into Civil War America.

Essay - 'The Myth of Sysephus' by Albert Camus. One of the great existentialist essays. It does not merely ask difficult questions, but provides answers for the modern man in his daily clash with the great force Camus calls 'the absurd'.

That's all for now.

Wes Mantooth

January 29th, 2010 at 1:34 PM ^

I'm reading a collection of Flannery O'Connor's short stories right now. It's too bad she died so young as she was really talented.

There was a thread on this a little while back, but Cormac McCarthy is awesome. Blood Meridian is one of the best books I've read if you can deal with all the blood. I'd definitely recommend it.


January 29th, 2010 at 1:37 PM ^

I've been keeping a book of John Cheever's short stories in my bag with me. I can pull it out and work on it whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Depressing, but excellent prose.


January 29th, 2010 at 1:46 PM ^

Anything Hemingway.
True Crime - Try Jack Olsen (Very descriptive).
The Long Walk (True Story of a Trek to Freedom) - Slavomir Rawicz
The Sweet Season - Austin Murphy
The Jungle - Upton Sinclair

So many great books. You've reminded of a few that I need hunt down. Thanks.


January 29th, 2010 at 1:46 PM ^

In my esteemed opinion, On the Genealogy of Morals and Beyond Good and Evil are required reading for any serious Michigan fan who wants to understand our role as the ultimate nobility in college football.

One's understanding of the concepts and phenomena illustrated in these works will be enhanced by a reading of the ancient Indian epics Mahabharata (esp. the Bhagavad Gita) and Ramayana, as well as the Norse Poetic Edda, the Finnic Kalavela, and the epics of pre-classical Greece. Just to name a few.

Dark Blue

January 29th, 2010 at 1:50 PM ^

If you have any interest at all in fantasy fiction, I would highly recommend The Wheel of Time series. The original author (Robert Jordan) passed away and Brandon Sanderson has picked up the series. Currently 13 books in the series with 2 more to be released in the next two years. I'm not a big fan of fantasy fiction but these are perhaps the best books I've ever read.

Dark Blue

January 29th, 2010 at 2:09 PM ^

The series definitely fell off a bit after The Fires of Heaven, but it really picked back up in A Knife of Dreams.Not saying the books in the middle were bad, they were just a bit drawn out. Also IMO The Gathering Storm was as good as any book in the series. It sucks I have to wait until October for the next one.

I Bleed Maize N Blue

January 30th, 2010 at 6:18 AM ^

While I liked the first four books of Wheel of Time, some friends who usually like epic fantasy dropped it. I thought that Jordan was seriously in need of Samurai Editor for the books that followed. Things finally are picking up, but I wonder if he could have finished before his passing. I haven't read the latest one yet, but I'm going to finish the series.

George RR Martin's series A Song of Ice & Fire, mentioned below, is far superior, I think.


January 29th, 2010 at 1:52 PM ^

I'm currently reading "The Magicians" by Lev Grossman, which is like Harry Potter on drugs. Literally.

Anything by Chuck Palahniuk. Well...almost anything. Not "Pygmy."

"Last Night of the Earth Poems" by Charles Bukowski.


January 29th, 2010 at 1:56 PM ^

Brian's reference to a Malcolm Gladwell essay turned me on to Gladwell. I've since read Outliers and could not put it down.

Another Doris Kearns Goodwin book that is excellent: No Ordinary Time, which is part biography, part history of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Another book in the same vein of being part history, part biography is Taylor Branch's Parting the Waters: America in the King Years. It's the first of a trilogy--I have not read the others, but that read like a novel.

Fiction-wise, I love anything by John Irving or Richard Russo. I recently finished E.L. Doctorow's Homer and Langely and wanted to kill myself after finishing it.


January 29th, 2010 at 2:16 PM ^

Just finished Frankenstein. Pretty big fan of the classics, Dracula, Frankenstein, The Three Musketeers, and Les Miserables. My favorite is probably The Count of Monte Cristo. There are many parallels one can derive from the story of Edmund Dantes and the creature in Frankenstein. Both were benevolent and kind creatures who became marked by revenge and vengeance in part due to circumstances out of their control.


January 29th, 2010 at 2:42 PM ^

Les Miserables is great - one of my favorite books ever due to the fact that I read insanely fast (which is a curse when it comes to reading for pleasure because books don't entertain me for as long as they should) and Les Miserables one of the few books that can stand up to my reading pace. It took me six weeks. For comparison's sake, Dune took me three days (though I had a lot more free time during those three days.)

But with Hugo - man - get the abridged version. Anyone who hasn't read Les Miserables and wants to, get the abridged version. I was a little peeved at missing out on some of the side trips Hugo likes to take in his books, but I'm working on The Hunchback of Notre Dame now, written by a much less mature Hugo, and man does it plod. I'm almost halfway through and the narrative hasn't quite gotten through 24 hours of time - the rest is flashbacks and history lectures.

The classics though - big thumbs up to them. After I get done with Hunchback I'm jumping into Nicholas Nickleby next. I love Dickens.


January 29th, 2010 at 8:00 PM ^

Yes, it was my favorite of all time and the movie did not even come close to doing it justice. Honestly, the movie needs to be really well done to do the book justice because of the serialized newspaper style that it was written in. There are so many subplots and too much dialouge to truly make it into a great movie IMO.

I also enjoyed 1984, very well done.

I'm rereading the Hobbit now, can't wait to see the movie.


January 29th, 2010 at 2:59 PM ^

I vote treasure. I loved The Stand. You might also like The Talisman by King and Peter Straub, and the gunslinger series from King. The Eyes of the Dragon also has a similar feel, and is the first "fantasy" type story he wrote.

A Case of Blue

January 29th, 2010 at 6:33 PM ^

I read a lot of super-literary stuff, and I also read a lot of Stephen King. For my money, few writers are ever guaranteed to be as entertaining. When you open one of his novels, you know you're in for a good time.

His latest, Under the Dome, is very good. Maybe not quite on par with The Stand and Salem's Lot (my two all-time favorites) but close.


January 29th, 2010 at 2:25 PM ^

...I have to put my 2 cents in re: Doris Kearns Goodwin, however. Don't read her. Admittedly, she writes very readable, largely accurate historical stuff, but she's kind of a hack. She had the whole plagiarism thing, and every time she opens her mouth to do quasi-political/historical commentary in real time she embarrasses herself. Again, just my 2 cents (maybe she annoys me in ways she wouldn't annoy most), but get your nonfiction elsewhere.

If anyone is a nerd into long, rambling, but really interesting books read "Goedel, Escher, Bach" by Hofstadter (I just finished it). For fiction, I recommend anything Vonnegut (Cat's Cradle and Sirens of Titan are my favorites).


January 29th, 2010 at 2:29 PM ^

If you're like me, you love a good short story... Here are some my favorites:

Laurie Moore: Self Help
Charles D'Ambrosio: Dead Fish Museum
Denis Johnson: Jesus's Son
Stuart Dybeck: Childhood and other Stories
Aimee Bender: Girl in the Flammable Skirt
Dan Chaon: Among the Missing (Just finished this and wow!)

And of course, as homage to JD Salinger, everyone should read Franny and Zooey (not really short stories...).


January 29th, 2010 at 2:29 PM ^

I'm trying to get into reading more fiction books, but I have stacks of non-fiction books that I haven't read yet. I will have to look into books mentioned by other mgobloggers.

I just finished Super Freakonomics. It was good, but not great and a easy read, much like the first one.

Some of my favorites:
Milton Friedman - Free to Choose & Capitalism & Freedom
F.A. - Road to Serfdom
Michael Crighton - Prey & State of Fear
John U. Bacon - Bo's Lasting Lessons

Kalamazoo Blue

January 29th, 2010 at 2:32 PM ^

Non-fiction. By Erik Larson. The story of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair -- the political and economic forces against the fair, the incredible scientific and cultural changes brought about by the fair...and the story of the mass-murderer who preyed on those who came to the fair.

This was the only time in my life I stayed up all night to finish a book.


January 29th, 2010 at 2:35 PM ^

"Whoever Fights Monsters".....By Robert Ressler and Tim Shachtman is an excellent, excellent, read. Also, they have another book in which i've just started entitled, "I Have Lived in the Monster"...
Which is pretty good too.


January 29th, 2010 at 2:41 PM ^

I can recommend a couple:

Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger. I bought and read this book in the spring of 1991 while a senior in high school. I had just finished my H.S. football career here in SE Michigan and I could not believe how different things were in Texas as opposed to here.

Education of a Felon: A Memoir by Edward Bunker ("Mr Blue" in Reservoir Dogs). Fascinating autobiography about the life he spent in and out of prison.

Those are just two that stick out this minute. Having 3 kids under age 8 hasn't given me much time to read anything of note the last few years. I'm sure some of you on here can relate!